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Thousands more GPs sign up to swine flu child vaccination deals

By Ian Quinn

Thousands more GPs have signed up to deliver the swine flu vaccine to children under five but colleagues in other parts of the country are demanding concessions over workload.

LMC leaders have agreed a deal with the 14 PCTs across NHS South West for GPs to administer the vaccine for a sum of £5.25 per vaccination.

It follows last week's breakdown in national negotiations between the Department of Health and the BMA, after GP leaders attacked the Government for refusing to agree to concessions to cover the impact on GPs' workload .

The latest deal to be revealed, by sources at NHS South West, comes after PCTs in Gloucestershire, Swindon, Wiltshire, Somerset, Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole, Devon , Plymouth and Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, secured agreement with LMC leaders.

The SHA deal follows agreements between NHS London and NHS North East last week with regional GP leaders, while NHS Sandwell and NHS Warwickshire PCTs both said today they had also agreed deals with their local LMCs which will see a LES offered- again at £5.25 per vaccination- in line with the Government's original proposal.

Health secretary Andy Burnham, who is due to receive a report on the crisis after a meeting of regional NHS swine flu leads in London today (Tuesday), told Pulse he expected 70% of the vaccination of under fives to be delivered by GPs, with some having already begun the task and many more to start next week.

However, some LMCs are refusing to back down in negotiations, with GP leaders in Birmingham this afternoon meeting with the city's three PCTs insisting that they will not sign up to any LES unless there are concessions made on workload.

Dr Graham Archard, a GP in Christchurch, Dorset, said: ‘Most of the practices in this area and I believe many in other parts of the country have decided to go ahead, even if it means they are paying out of their own pocket.

‘The message the Government has been putting out is that GPs have been holding out for more money over this but what I would like to stress is that many GPs are going ahead even though it will mean them making a loss.

‘We have carried out research into the vaccination campaign and we didn't break even with the other priority groups with the £5.25 fee and we certainly won't with children because the whole process of vaccinating children takes much longer.'

Dr Bob Morley, joint chief executive of Birmingham LMC, said: ‘We certainly won't be backing down over this. We believe it's vital for concessions over workload to be reached if the swine flu vaccine to children is to be delivered safely. If practices were to receive £5.25 they would almost certainly be making a loss and our concern is that they would be making a loss and also prejudicing the care of other patients.'

However, Dr Morley admitted it was possible the trusts would attempt to bypass the LMCs and approach individual practices to accept a LES, if agreement could not be reached, adding: ‘I believe there will be a split on this. Some GPs will do it and others won't.'

A spokesperson for Sandwell PCT said: 'The preferred providers are our own local GP's. If any practices do not sign up to the LES then the PCT may offer the work out to an alternative provider. '

A spokesperson for NHS Warwickshire said: 'I can confirm that the £5.25 figure has been agreed.'

Swine flu vaccine: thousands more GPs have signed up to vaccinate under fives Swine flu vaccine: thousands more GPs have signed up to vaccinate under fives

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